"If I had to go back on it, I probably would do it a little bit different. But I'm happy with the decision I made. There's always going to be a misunderstanding. I don't know what I would [have done], but I definitely would have changed it," said James.
James did go on to say that he doesn't regret leaving Cleveland to join the Miami Heat, since he believes that the Heat give him the best chance to win in the future. James took a great deal of criticism for the manner by which he left the Cleveland Cavaliers. After his nationally-televised special called "The Decision," James was re-defined to be arrogant and insensitive. As a result, Cavs fans burned LeBron's jersey and cursed his name in public. This led to a public attack by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who said that James was a poor role model and a coward for leaving the team without speaking to him.
I was incredibly disappointed with the way some Cavs fans treated James upon his departure. I also agreed with the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who felt that Gilbert's response to James was like that of a runaway slave. LeBron has never been and never will be anyone's property, so to treat him in such a way is clearly disrespectful.
One thing that LeBron can be rightfully critiqued over is for the fact that he probably should not have been so open about his lack of loyalty to the city of Cleveland. He readily told the public that he was a bigger fan of the New York Yankees than the Cleveland Indians. He also made his desire to leave the team far more public than it needed to be. He might have been better off appearing to be leaving the city reluctantly, rather than making himself the one Cleveland resident who gets to leave cold weather and a dreary economy for the bright and sunny horizons in Miami.
One thing that we must remember is that LeBron is young. He's only 25-years old, which means that he's got quite a few bad decisions in front of him. Of course he's playing a grown man's game, but the truth is that he still has a great deal to learn. Not going to college means that he never learned some important principles about sports branding, which imply that it's more important that the public see you as a good person than it is that they see you as a good person than for them to see you as a good athlete. Your public image is what makes you rich.
A final note about LeBron James' decision to leave Miami is that he has to remember that black athletes are often dealt a significant double standard when it comes to their behavior and choices. No matter how talented a person is, many African American athletes are often confronted with accusations of being arrogant and having a poor set of ethics. Much of this comes from a country full of self-righteous sports fans, many of whom have been taught to subconsciously believe that black athletes are simply inferior human beings. Even the golden boy LeBron James can't get away from that. So, rather than noting that LeBron James gave away all the proceeds of his televised special to Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the media chose to interpret his television show to be a public display of misguided conceit. That's unfortunate, because LeBron is every bit of a team player - the fact that he's sharing the spotlight with other superstars in Miami is a testament to this truth.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.